CONCERNING new paradigm of development, we already had a
study class in 2013 on this topic. Further in 2015, a detailed and
well researched paper has been written on this by Com. PJ James and
also articles have been written on this by Com. KN Ramachandran and
others. We need not rehash the same articles in this paper for study.
What we intend to do in this paper is concentrate more on what exactly
is it that we mean when we say an alternate paradigm of development. It
is clear from Com. James’ paper that there can be no alternate paradigm
of development in the capitalist system and it will require the creation of
a socialist system to go towards a new paradigm of development. Comrade
KN’s articles have dealt with what was done in the Soviet Union to try and
make a new model of development. Still, we have to reach a concrete
conclusion of what exactly do we mean by a new paradigm of development.
Let us come to more concrete issues. For instance, take minerals.
Minerals are one of the mainstays of the capitalist production system.
They are one of the main raw materials required in the production. While
energy and water are universal to almost all production under capitalism,
minerals (in which we also include crude oil and its derivatives) are also
required in most production activities. The actual figures for mineral
production worldwide show that the production of minerals has gone up
from around 14.8 billion metric tonnes in 2009 to around 17.3 billion metric
tonnes in 2014 – a growth of around 17% in just three years.1 If we look at
the figures for the different minerals for the period from 2011 to 2014,
Bauxite has grown from 228 million tonnes to 260 million tonnes (14%);
Alumina from 84.2 million tonnes to 107.2 million tonnes (27%); primary
aluminium from 41.5 million tonnes to 53 million tonnes(28%); iron ore
from 2.6 billion tonnes to 3.4 billion tonnes (31%); lead from 4.4 million
tonnes to 5.4 million tonnes (23%); phospate rock from 182 million tonnes
to 245 million tonnes (35%). Even the production of coal has gone up
from 7.4 billion tonnes to 8.1 billion tonnes (9%). The production of even
such well controlled minerals like crude petroleum has gone up. In fact,
we can find that production has gone up in almost all minerals especially
since 2009 in an attempt to scrounge out greater profits since the most
recent economic crisis.
The utter rapacious plunder of the earth’s resources by the big
imperialist mining companies have grown to such an extent that there is
no hope of this being sustainable even in the short term. Take Iron Ore. It
is estimated that the total reserves of iron ore worldwide are about 190
billion tonnes5. In 2006 Lester Brown, of the World Watch Institute had
predicted that iron ore would run out in 64 years at the extremely
conservative estimate that production would grow by 2% per year. As
seen above the rate of growth of production between 2011 to 2014 averaged
over 10% per year. At that rate, the world’s iron ore reserves will be
exhausted in a mere 25 years. The same applies to other minerals. Crude
oil resources are estimated to be able to last from 30 to 50 years. Alumina
reserves are estimated at around 32 billion tonnes. The current production
is around 107 million tonnes. In 2011 to 2014, it grew at about 9% per
year on average. At this rate it is expected to be exhausted in less than
All this shows that such production in the mining sector is utterly
unsustainable even in the short term. We will leave the next generation
with a stark world bereft of minerals if we do not mend our ways. As such,
it is required to think of an alternative. Possibly a more efficient system of
recycling all over the world may help in some cases. For instance, even
today, recycled iron ore is more prevalent than new ore in the production
of steel. But this will require centralised planning at the international level
at a scale which can only be achieved under socialism.
Let us consider another resource like water. Water, by itself is still in
such quantities that we can think in terms of infinites. The problem is
with potable water. The production of such water is clearly unsustainable.
Here the problem poses a different problem than exhaustion. Let us look
at the graphic below (next page) :
As we can see, only 2.5% of the water on earth is fresh water. The
other is saline water. Of this 2.5%, only 1.2% (0.03% of the total water on
earth) is surface / other fresh water. Of this only about 24% (0.0072% of
the total water) is in lakes, rivers, swamps and marshes. It is on this
water that all capitalist production usually survives. This shows that there
exists enough water on earth to sustain much higher levels of production.
The problem is to make this water available. How to make, for instance,
sea water possible to use in industrial production? How to use ground
water more efficiently? The technology does exist even today to solve
this problem. All the existing solutions though, use too much energy and
are therefore too “costly”. If we could have cheap and abundant sources
of energy this problem too could be solved. The problem of water then is
essentially a by-product of the problem of energy.
Theoretically, energy exists in a magnitude which makes our needs
less than miniscule. Just the energy coming in solar rays is huge. The
total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land
masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year. In 2002,
this was more energy in one hour than the world used in one year.1 If only
this energy could be harnessed for use in production, it could be a solution
to all our problems. The sun itself is, at todays levels of energy
requirements, a sustainable source of energy. Using solar energy also
has other benefits. It is a clean source of energy and harnessing this
energy to other uses will lower global warming. But that is not the only
source available. There are other sources of energy which we have to
explore much more. There is tidal energy which is basically generated by
the gravitational pull of the moon. Nuclear energy, though theoretically
usable is today an unsafe, unclean and costly source of energy. More
research must be put into making it a feasible source of energy.
At the other end is the actual rate of consumption. Today we can see
that the rate of consumption is too great to be sustained. If the whole
world was to consume food grains at the rate at which American citizens
consume them, then we would need four earths just to grow sufficient
foodgrain to sustain such consumption. At the same time, obesity is
growing in the US and is an alarming cause of concern, including infant
obesity. Heart disease is the single main cause of death. In short,
Americans are consuming too much and paying the price by dying of
Our concern is, what is causing humans to hurtle in this mindless
fashion towards oblivion? We have to change our patterns of production
and of consumption. We have to treat the earth and its resources, including
human resources as precious objects and regulate their use. One could
argue that this use is regulated even today in different ways. Different
taxes, tariffs and penalties are levied just for such regulation. Then why
are we still hurtling towards destruction as all indices show? Obviously
there is something wrong in the way in which such use of human resources
is being regulated. How can we change this?
Our first paper on the environmental question in 2013 had put forward
some directions. It said:
- More direct and proximate democratic processes for taking all
decisions on production;
- Free information to all including scientific papers in simple
language being made available for all;
- Fight against religion, superstition, etc. Fight against patriarchy,
brahminism, regional and language hegemonism, etc.
- Sustainable development is the only path – Man as a part of
nature and not Man vs. Nature as the basis of development.
It had talked of these principles being put forward, not as an alternative
to the struggle for socialism but as being in addition to the socialist
principles. In fact, these principles could only be achieved under socialism.
The regulation of production, distribution and consumption under
capitalism is based on the profit motive. The whole of capitalism works
on the principle that the rate of profit in society must increase for society
to prosper or even to sustain. Capitalism is, therefore, essentially short
sighted. If profits are down, if larger profits can be made by “fracking” for
the production of shale oil in the immediate run, then though fracking will
endanger the sustainability of the earth and its environment in the long
run, capitalism will invest in fracking. If the sustainability of profits requires
that more Coca-cola must be sold, then society will be bombarded with
advertisements for coca-cola, no matter what the ill effects in the long
run. Capitalism does not look at the sustainability of the earth and its
environment in the long run, it only looks at the sustainability of profits in
the immediate run. At a certain stage, both these are bound to be at
odds. As Com. James put in his paper, there is an immediate need for
the de-commodification of nature and of labour.
It is not as if capitalism was always bad for the earth and the
environment. At a certain stage of development, capitalism was the only
way forward for the earth. It broke the stranglehold of the monarchs and
the aristocracy over the earth, its produce and over the people. It brought
all of these onto the market place. The market as a regulatory mechanism
which constantly regulated production and consumption of commodities
was a wonderful advance which allowed mankind to advance from the age
of bullock carts to the age of space travel in just a few centuries. But
today, capitalism is facing recurrent economic crises. To recover from
such crises, it has to use quick and dangerous “fixes” to immediately
To change this method is not as easy as it seems. The whole earth
today is based on certain infrastructures. These infrastructures pervade
our very way of life upto the minutest degree. For instance, there are
petrol pumps, in every street. If we have to give up fossil fuels, not only
every car, but every petrol pump and every oil pipeline on earth will become
redundant. It is the powers that control such petrol pumps, the manufacture
of cars and the construction of such pipelines who are bound to resist the
change. They have a vested interest in retaining the status quo, no matter
the consequences. It is these very same powers, today, who enjoy
tremendous clout in governments all over the world. They control
governments rather than the other way around.
We have to fight for a new system of regulation. We have to fight for
a system of regulation where the people affected by the use of certain
products will be able to take the decisions on their production. This involves
changes in the system of organisation of society itself. We have to fight
for a system of regulation where the people taking such decision on their
own environment will be able to take a long term view. Where they will be
well informed on the consequences of their decisions. Where they will
not be influenced by factors like religion, caste, language, etc. In short,
we have to fight for a truly democratic society. This is what the new
socialist society will be like. Today, the technology to allow for such
democracy exists. Information is freely available and can be transmitted
and disseminated easily. People’s opinions can be easily polled. We
can easily aim for a new form of democracy where people can directly
take decisions on all matters that affect them.
One more question remains, this new system of organisation for
production will entail changes which will affect not only the big corporations
who will lose not just their profits but their whole infrastructure but will
also affect the workers. One might say that the petrol pump owners losing
his assets can be justified on the basis of what he has already made as
profits. What of the workers at the petrol pump? If mining must be stopped,
what of the mining workers? Actually this can also be clearly settled. All
mining workers be given an appropriate rehabilitation package. This means
that they should be paid their wages till the age of retirement or till they
find better employment. This is not unfeasible. The number of mining
workers all over the world are estimated to be around 3.7 million. To be
precise, the ILO reported that there were 1.5 million people employed in
the mining sector in 2010 in the developed countries and 2.2 million people
in the developing / emerging nations.
On the other hand the profits of the major mining companies in the
year 2010 were $110 billion ($132 billion in 2011). If only one year’s profit
of these corporations are given to the workers they will have an average of
$ 30000 to $ 35000 each. A simple calculation will show that this amount,
if invested at 8% per year, will be sufficient to pay each worker $ 300
each with an increment of 5% per annum for around 20 to 25 years with
sufficient amounts left over to provide for terminal dues. This will be more
than the wages paid to workers in most of the neo-colonial countries. To
pay miners in advanced countries, some more will be required. In other
words, the amount of just a few year’s profits of these massive mining
companies, can suffice to rehabilitate all the mining workers all over the
world by continuing their wages till they find better employment.
- The earth and the environment can no more take the level of
exploitation that we are subjecting it to;
- Capitalism today is more concerned with the sustainability
of its immediate profits and not with the sustainability of the earth
and of mankind on this earth;
- We have to create a system where nature and labour are no
more commodities but are seen as resources to be regulated in a
- Such a system will have to be based on a more democratic
organisation of society where people are directly involved in decision
making for matters concerning them;
- Such a system is today feasible with the technology available
for the dissemination of information and the polling of opinions;
- The creation of such a system will involve resistance from
forces that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo;
- While creating such a system we have to appropriate from
the big industries immediately a sufficient amount to pay for the
rehabilitation of all who are displaced by the change.
We will have to refine and further develop all the above points in
actual practice but these seem to be the only way to allow for this earth
and human society to exist beyond a few decades from today.
- The International Communist Movement : (Here, by the International Communist Movement, we refer to the Marxist movement and not to pre-Marx “communism” as, for example, primitive communism, etc.) : Marxism arises out of three sources and therefore has them as its three component parts – namely German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism.
- The philosophy of Marxism is materialism. This was defended and expounded especially by Engels in Ludwig Feuerbach and Anti-Duhring. Marx enriched materialism with the achievements of Hegel on Dialectics. Following on Feuerbach’s development of a materialist form of dialectics, he developed it further to dialectical materialism – to signify the most modern form of the theory of development. He applied dialectical materialism to the history of human society to develop Historical materialism. As materialism asserted that all of man’s knowledge is a reflection of what exists in the material world, historical materialism showed that all of man’s social knowledge (politics, religion, philosophy, etc.) reflect human society. As dialectics showed that all development takes place only by struggling against adversity and by adapting to the material world, the same was applied to society to show that at the bottom of all societal development was production.
- Having identified that production was the basis for human development, Marx developed the economic theories of the English economists, especially Adam Smith and Ricardo (the labour theory of value), to give rise to his exposition of Capital. He wrote Capital in three volumes, with another three volumes being devoted to theories of surplus value. Whereas other economists treated economy as a relationship between things (the exchange of commodities), he treated it as a relationship between persons and persons and between persons and things. Money signifies how the societal relationship is becoming more close and inseparable. In capitalism even capital and labour power can be purchased for money. He exposed the relation between the capitalist and the worker to be one of exploitation of surplus value (which was his original contribution to economy). The worker works for part of the day for his wages and for the rest, without remuneration for the benefit of the capitalist – for his profit. He showed how by increasing the dependence of the workers on capital, capitalism creates the great power of united labour.
- With the advent of capitalism – with its victory over feudalism, the concepts of “freedom” – “liberty, equality and fraternity” came to the fore. But there was no real “freedom”. The workers were “wage-slaves”. Even before Marx, many like Robert Owen, Saint Simon and Fourier had pointed out the evils of capitalist society and had proposed a different form of society – a socialist society. They asked the capitalists to change and form a new type of society. They were the utopian socialists. Marx put the theory of socialism on a firm scientific footing. He showed that just as anything in nature develops by struggling against adversity and synthesizing a new to the material world, so also all human history develops by the struggles of classes against each other and their adaptation to society.
- Marx and Engels did not engage only in academic activity. They founded the International Workingmen’s Association later to be known as the First International. The First International at the beginning was a grand mixture of people of various persuasions – mutualists, blanquists, Italian republicans, American proponents of individual anarchism, English Owenites, etc. The main struggle in the First International was against the anarchists (also known in economics as the mutualists) who were led by Bakunin (Proudhon was the economic theorist). The anarchists believed in the “direct economical struggle against capitalism, without interfering in the political parliamentary agitation.”* Marx critiqued their economic theory in his Poverty of Philosophy which was a reply to Proudhons “The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty”. It was the First International that first raised the call for an 8 hour working day in its Geneva Congress in 1866.
- In 1871, the workers of Paris captured power for a little over two months (from 18th March to 28th May). Many of the members of the First International took part in this revolutionary upsurge. The workers of Paris created history by showing, though in an embryonic form, the outlines of a workers state. In the words of Engels in his Preface to Marx’s Civil War in France, written in 1891 to mark twenty years of the commune, he wrote:
“…Paris mobilized as one man in defence of the guns, and war between Paris and the French government sitting at Versailles was declared. On March 26 the Paris Commune was elected and on March 28 it was proclaimed. The Central Committee of the National Guard, which up to then had carried on the government, handed in its resignation to the National Guard, after it had first decreed the abolition of the scandalous Paris “Morality Police.” On March 30 the Commune abolished conscription and the standing army, and declared that the National Guard, in which all citizens capable of bearing arms were to be enrolled, was to be the sole armed force. It remitted all payments of rent for dwelling houses from October 1870 until April, the amounts already paid to be reckoned to a future rental period, and stopped all sales of articles pledged in the municipal pawnshops. On the same day the foreigners elected to the Commune were confirmed in office, because “the flag of the Commune is the flag of the World Republic.”
On April 1 it was decided that the highest salary received by any employee of the Commune, and therefore also by its members themselves, might not exceed 6,000 francs. On the following day the Commune decreed the separation of the Church from the State, and the abolition of all state payments for religious purposes as well as the transformation of all Church property into national property; as a result of which, on April 8, a decree excluding from the schools all religious symbols, pictures, dogmas, prayers – in a word, “all that belongs to the sphere of the individual’s conscience” – was ordered to be excluded from the schools, and this decree was gradually applied. On the 5th, in reply to the shooting, day after day, of the Commune’s fighters captured by the Versailles troops, a decree was issued for imprisonment of hostages, but it was never carried into effect. On the 6th, the guillotine was brought out by the 137th battalion of the National Guard, and publicly burnt, amid great popular rejoicing. On the 12th, the Commune decided that the Victory Column on the Place Vendôme, which had been cast from guns captured by Napoleon after the war of 1809, should be demolished as a symbol of chauvinism and incitement to national hatred. This decree was carried out on May 16. On April 16 the Commune ordered a statistical tabulation of factories which had been closed down by the manufacturers, and the working out of plans for the carrying on of these factories by workers formerly employed in them, who were to be organized in co-operative societies, and also plans for the organization of these co-operatives in one great union. On the 20th the Commune abolished night work for bakers, and also the workers’ registration cards, which since the Second Empire had been run as a monopoly by police nominees – exploiters of the first rank; the issuing of these registration cards was transferred to the mayors of the 20 arrondissements of Paris. On April 30, the Commune ordered the closing of the pawnshops, on the ground that they were a private exploitation of labor, and were in contradiction with the right of the workers to their instruments of labor and to credit. On May 5 it ordered the demolition of the Chapel of Atonement, which had been built in expiation of the execution of Louis XVI.
Thus, from March 18 onwards the class character of the Paris movement, which had previously been pushed into the background by the fight against the foreign invaders, emerged sharply and clearly. As almost without exception, workers, or recognized representatives of the workers, sat in the Commune, its decision bore a decidedly proletarian character. Either they decreed reforms which the republican bourgeoisie had failed to pass solely out of cowardice, but which provided a necessary basis for the free activity of the working class – such as the realization of the principle that in relation to the state, religion is a purely private matter – or they promulgated decrees which were in the direct interests of the working class and to some extent cut deeply into the old order of society.”
- These activities of the commune described by Engels are by no means exhaustive. The women’s liberation movement was greatly encouraged. The Women’s Union demanded gender equality, wages’ equality, the right of divorce for women, the right to secular education and professional education for girls. They also demanded suppression of the distinction between married women and unmarried companions, and between legitimate and illegitimate children. They advocated the abolition of prostitution (obtaining the closing of the maisons de tolérance, or legal official brothels). The Women’s Union also participated in several municipal commissions and organized cooperative workshops. Besides this, the Commune allowed churches to function only on condition that their halls would be thrown open for political activities in the evenings.
- In the days leading to the Paris Commune, when Prussia was attacking France and using Germany also as its pawn, the workers of Germany and France, through the First International, sent messages to each other denouncing the war and pledging friendship and support to one another in their fight against capitalism. This was the first time such a solidarity between the citizens of two countries at war had ever happened in history.
- While upholding thr Paris Commune and evaluating its contributions,Marx made a criticism of the Paris Commune also saying that the communards ought to have marched on Varsailles at the very beginning of the revolt and not restricted themselves to Paris. In fact, this was the basis for Marx’s later development of the concept of “dictatorship of the proletariat” (though this term was coined earlier) in the Critique of the Gotha Program. He indicated that the proletariat, when it achieves class rule, has to smash the resistance of the bourgeoisie.
- By 1869, Marx and Engels along with Liebknecht and Babel had started work for the formation of the German Social Democratic Party. They advocated the political struggle of the working class to seize power. They sought to introduce in the program of the First International also the need for the need for the political struggle. This was vehemently opposed by the Anarchists. They believed that the political struggle would be divisive of the working class. They asked for direct and immediate economic emancipation of the working class. Thus there arose two specific understandings in the International – Communist and Anarchist. The communists were for the political struggle of the working class along with the economic struggle. The anarchists opposed the political struggle and asked for the direct and immediate economic emancipation of the working class. The communists therefore felt the need for the working class for have their own party. The anarchists, on the other hand, felt no such need and only wanted a broad unity based on immediate economic emancipation. The communists wanted to struggle for universal franchise and to participate in elections on the basis of their political program. The anarchists wanted no such political struggle. The communists postulated that after coming to power, the working class would have to establish a new form of democracy for the majority - “dictatorship of the proletariat” whereas the anarchists were for the immediate abolition of the state. The communists felt that the spontaneous struggle of the working class must be guided by the party whereas the anarchists advocated that the spontaneous struggle of the proletariat will itself lead to establishment of the true philosophy and politics of the working class.
- Issues came to a head in the meeting of the First International at Hague in 1872. The Anarchists walked out of the First International and were later expelled. The headquarters of the International was then moved to the USA and finally, in 1876, the International was dissolved.
- The next important development in the ICM is the Critique of the Gotha Program by Marx. In this critique, Marx has, for the first time, laid down many important principles of the Communists. Besides the economic clarifications on “labour” and other connected economic concepts, Marx has also assailed the assertion in the program that “...in relation to the working class all other classes are only one reactionary mass” He showed clearly that the workers will have to rely upon other classes like the petty bourgeoisie as allies in the revolution. He also showed clearly that the concept of “proletarian internationalism” meant much more than a mere striving for “an international brotherhood of all people” in the future. He pointed out in this critique that there was a long period between the phase of early communist social development which would still suffer from bourgeois right, when each person would only get according to the labour or work that he or she had put in, and the later communist phase when the slogan would be “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
- As has been pointed out earlier, the struggle between the communists and the anarchists led to the dissolution of the First International. In 1881 socialist parties of various countries (mainly Germany, France, Belgium, Russia, Poland, Hungary, US and Switzerland) took part in a meeting which decided to call a conference to organise the second international. Two important differences with the First International were that there were no anarchists in this international (they had their own conference in London), and, secondly, only Socialist and Workers’ Parties, with elected delegates took part in this International, as opposed to trade unions and workers’ organisations. Engels was elected the President of the 2nd International in its 1893 conference in Zurich but he died in 1895. The Second International took some important decisions. In its Zurich Conference, it fomed the International Metalworkers Federation, which, till today, unites metal woerkes from all over the world. In its First Conference in Brussels in 1891, it resolved to observe 1st May each year as the International Workers’ Day. The Second International was instrumental in popularising the demand for an eight hour working day. It was also instrumental in the movement for women’s liberation. The First International Conference of Socialist Women was held immediately prior to the Stuttgart Conference of the Second International in 1907 (Interestingly, out of the 25 cuntries represented at this conference, India was one of them. Among others one woman, Madam Bhikaji Cama was also a delegate from India, who also participated in the women’s conference and then became a fighter for women’s rights). The Second International Conference of Socialist Women, held in Copenhagen, in 1910, declared 8th March to be International Working Women’s Day.
- During the period from the formation of the First International to the early years of the 20th Century, the world had changed quite drastically. In 1860, less than 10% of Africa had been colonised, by 1890, over 90% of Africa was colonised. Capitalism had been transformed into imperialism by the ever-increasing concentration and centralisation of capital and with the merger of bank capital and industrial capital. The Second International’s response to imperialism and colonialism was confused. In its London conference in 1896, the Second International had affirmed the right of nations to self-determination. In Paris, in 1900, the Conference supported the struggle of anti-colonial forces fighting for independence. The resolution of the Amsterdam conference in 1904 also specifically resolved to fight against “...colonial and imperialist policy”. However, by the Stuttgart Conference of 1907, a different policy had begun to emerge. A view had begun to creep in that imperialism and domination over ‘savage’ countries could be beneficial as the natives could be ‘educated’ and ‘civilised.’ This attitude was headed by Van Kol, a delegate from Holland – thankfully, the motion to adopt a ‘socialist colonial policy’ was defeated by 128 votes to 108, with 10 abstentions from Switzerland. This Congress also rejected a motion to ban the immigration of workers from backward countries, like China, into Europe. The Copenhagen Congress of 1910 called for the proletariat in all countries to protest against their governments attempts to make war and to fight against war. As the war clouds loomed ever more imminent over the Balkans a special Congress of the Second International was called in Basle (Switzerland) to define the attitude of the Second International towards war. The Basle resolution reiterated the stand of the Stuttgart and Copenhagen Congresses in the following terms:
“If a war threatens to break out, it is the duty of the working classes and their parliamentary representatives in the countries involved supported by the coordinating activity of the International Socialist Bureau to exert every effort in order to prevent the outbreak of war by the means they consider most effective, which naturally vary according to the sharpening of the class struggle and the sharpening of the general political situation.
In case war should break out anyway it is their duty to intervene in favor of its speedy termination and with all their powers to utilize the economic and political crisis created by the war to arouse the people and thereby to hasten the downfall of capitalist class rule.” (Emphasis in original)
- In spite of such an equivocal declaration, many of the main leaders of the Second International like Karl Kautsky, who was the theoretical leader of the Second International after Engels, and Bernstein made an about turn. These leaders called for supporting their own national governments. Due to this there was a last Congress of the Second International called at Zimmerwald in 1915. The Zimmerwald Congress consisted only of those who opposed the war but still did not reach in any unity but made a clear differentiation between the communists, led by Lenin who wanted to convert the war into a civil war and the centrists led by Robert Grim (and Kautsky who, though he did not attend Zimmerwald, accepted the Centrist position) who took a more pacifist anti-war line.
- Around that time, there was much written all over the world on the concept of “imperialism”. In particular Hobbes (a non-Marxist) and Hilferding (a marxist from Austria) had made detailed analyses. Further developing these analyses and rectifying them, Lenin made a pithy and scathiing analysis of imperialism in his book “Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism” in 1917. In this analysis, Lenin pointed out five distinctive features of Imperialism.
“The concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed.”
He also showed in that analysis how imperialism had in fact united the struggles for national liberation in the colonies, semi-colonies and dependent countries with those of the working class in the advanced countries for socialism.
- Lenin also criticised the formulation put forward by Kautsky of “ultra-imperialism” in which Kautsky had put forward the idea that the war may well lead to strengthening of “ultra-imperialism” in which imperialists may combine across national borders, thereby ensuring peace. Lenin countered this by pointing out that greater co-operation between imperialists did not in the least lower the chances of war but, in fact, increased it as intertwined capitalism would thrive on armaments and war. He also exposed that Kautsky and his supporters were only hiding their attempt to align with the bourgeoisie under this theory.
- Following the Zimmerwald Conference, the Second International died out. An attempt was made to revive it in 1920 and another International popularly known as the “two-and-a-half” international was also organised mainly under the theoretical leadership of the “austromarxists” who tried to find a middle line between revolution and class-collaboration. However, by 1923, the “two-and-a-half” international merged with the Second International and was subsequently home to parties like the British Labour Pary and the SPD in Germany which have intermittently ruled Great Britain and Germany till today. Lenin and the revolutionaries, on the other hand, organised the Third International in 1919 in Moscow.
- In the meantime, an event of earth-shattering importance had taken place in 1917 as we all know – the Great October Revolution. Taking place in 1917 on 7th November (25th October by the Gregorian calendar which was till then followed in Russia), this was the first time that the proletariat had been able to achieve the ruling role in any country. The Russian Revolution still remains one of the most important events in world history. Stalin explained as early as 1918 :
“The great world-wide significance of the October Revolution chiefly consists in the fact that;
1) It has widened the scope of the national question and converted it from the particular question of combating national oppression in Europe into the general question of emancipating the oppressed peoples, colonies and semi-colonies from imperialism;
2) It has opened up wide possibilities for their emancipation and the right paths towards it, has thereby greatly facilitated the cause of the emancipation of the oppressed peoples of the West and the East, and has drawn them into the common current of the victorious struggle against imperialism;
3) It has thereby erected a bridge between the socialist West and the enslaved East, having created a new front of revolutions against world imperialism, extending from the proletarians of the West, through the Russian revolution, to the oppressed peoples of the East.
This in fact explains the indescribable enthusiasm which is now being displayed for the Russian proletariat by the toiling and exploited masses of the East and the West.
And this mainly explains the frenzy with which the imperialist robbers of the whole world have now flung themselves upon Soviet Russia.”
- What Stalin was referring to was that soon after the revolution, Soviet Russia was attacked not merely by its own renegade armies like the White Russian armies under Kolchak and Denikin (who were Generals of the former Czarist regime) but also by the armies of 14 different countries. Due to this, the Communists in Russia had to introduce a policy of “war communism” This had far flung effects including compulsory collection of excess food grain from the peasantry, strict enforcement of factory discipline, etc. The Soviet Government was also forced to sign an unfair treaty with the Central Powers to end the war. In spite of all such major obstacles, the Soviet power managed to survive and grow. In 1921, the phase of “war communism” was ended and Lenin started the phase of the “New Economic Policy” (NEP), whereby a step backward was taken to allow a certain degree of capitalist relations (mainly small businesses) to allow the economy to recuperate.
- Though the Soviet leadership had earlier hoped that that revolution in Russia would lead to revolutions in other countries, this did not happen to any significant degree. The revolution of November 1918 in Germany failed and ended in the murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg on 15th January 1919. Lenin was therefore constrained to start the process of building socialism in one country. This was further taken up by Stalin who became the leader of the CPSU after the death of Lenin. However, Trotsky, one of the big leaders of the October Revolution put forward a different line. He put forward that there must be an immediate attempt to make revolution in other countries as otherwise socialism could not be built. There was a prolonged debate within the CPSU about whether and to what extent one could achieve the “victory of socialism in one country”. The debate between Leninism (led by Stalin) and Trotskyism ended in a resounding victory for the former. It was in the course of this debate that Stalin defined Leninism to be the Marxism of the period of imperialism and proletarian revolution (since Lenin had earlier defined the era to be the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution when analyzing imperialism).
- At the same time, Lenin, in his report to the Second Congress of the Third International had put forward the Colonial Thesis. He called upon the world proletariat to support the national liberation struggles in the colonial countries while at the same time pointing out to these national liberation struggles that their only salvation lay in the Soviet system. There was some debate in this Congress (in which M. N. Roy took part) about the role of “bourgeois democracy”. The final outcome was that the final thesis supported the “national revolutionary movments” instead of the bourgeois democratic movements insofar as it was accepted that the bourgeoisie in the colonies had also many links of interest with imperialism.
- In fact, within two years, in December 1922, the Comintern, in its Fourth Congress went so far as to say that there had been a significant change in the situation and the aspect of struggling against bourgeois democracy in the colonies had assumed greater importance.
- Overall, we can say that the Colonial policy of the Comintern was to link the world proletarian movement with the national liberation movements in the colonies while at the same time emphasizing that the unity between the “national bourgeoisie” and the proletariat in the colonial countries was subject to their allowing the working class to work unhindered for the socialist revolution. The Comintern in various documents developed the theory of the “national revolutionary movement” and put forward the theory of “people’s democratic revolution”. It became accepted that under imperialism, the capitalists who developed in the colonies were under the domination of imperialism and intertwined with it and were therefore incapable of leading the democratic revolution and therefore it was the proletariat and their party who would have to lead the new type of democratic revolution. Mao further developed this theory particularly in the context of China in his writings on “New Democracy”.
- Though the adoption of imperialist policies allowed advanced capitalist countries like Britain and France to evade collapse for many years, the crises of capitalism finally caught up with the imperialist powers. The years from 1929 to 1932 saw one of the worst economic crises of capitalism. The stock market crashed all over the world and the world economy entered into a “Great Depression”. Production collapsed world-wide and unemployment grew to massive levels. The Soviet economy was almost the only economy in the world which not only grew but grew at record rates in this period. The Great Depression gave rise to two significant developments. Keynesian theories came into prominence and received wide acceptance. On the other hand, Fascism reared its ugly head and came to power in various countries like Germany and Italy.
- Around the same time, Japan had invaded China (in 1931 itself). The Chinese communists were fighting a war against the Kuomintang in China at that time. They also were the one’s to take a proper stand of making a people’s war out of the war of Resistance to the Japanese. They offered an alliance to the Kuomintang to fight the Japanese. However, the correct political understanding of Mao and other leaders of the Communist Party of China helped them to take the correct tactical positions of uniting with the Kuomintang at times and of fighting them at different times. At that time, the Cominterrn had sent a commisstion to China to help guide the Chinese party consisting of Mikhail Borodin and M. N. Roy. However, this commission proved to be nothing but a hindrance and the CPC under the leadership of Mao rightly rejected the advise of the Comintern as was given by this commission.
- The Comintern recognized the danger posed by Fascism and put forward in the Seventh Congress in 1935 the tactical line of uniting with one section of imperialism to fight Fascism. The Soviet Union tried its best to keep from being drawn into the war, including offering a peace treaty to the allied powers and then, when this overture was refused, signing a peace treaty with Hitler. However, Hitler broke his pact and invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.
- The Third International then declared the war to be a “People’s War” and urged communist parties all over the world to follow this line. The Soviet Union under Stalin and its people and soldiers fought valiantly during the war and saved the world from coming under the domination of Hitlerite Fascism. The Soviet Red Army played a decisive role in the war and was the first to unfurl the red flag from atop the Reichstag in Berlin.
- During this period, the Soviet Union and the Comintern made some tactical mistakes. There was a tendency to stress nationalism at the cost of internationalism.
- In 1941, due to the dominance of the US, the diminishing of strength of Great Britain and other old imperialist powers, due to it having become clear to imperialism that it was not possible to rule in the old fashion in view of the massive people’s movements all over the world and due to other factors, the US and the UK signed the Atlantic Charter. In this charter, they agreed that there would be no more colonies after the war and also agreed that all nations would be free to equally access trade and raw materials all over the world, which essentially meant that all nations would be free to exploit the resources of the whole world equally. This was the first glimpse of the new system that imperialism wanted to bring in place of the old colonial system.
- On 1st January 1942, representatives of 26 nations met in Washington DC to pledge their support to the Atlantic Charter, . The Soviet Union was one of these nations. In 1943 the Comintern was dissolved largely on the insistence of the USA and UK. Though some leaders of the Third International have stated that the Third International was being dissolved because there was no need for such a body as Communist parties all over the world had achieved maturity and could now decide their own lines and directions, Stalin has plainly stated, when dissolving the Comintern, that this was being done to assure the Allied Powers that the Soviet Union had no ambitions of world domination and has also called for it being reorganized at a later stage.
- In 1944, when 44 countries assembled in Bretton Woods in the USA to discuss the formation of the IMF and the IBRD (what is now the “world bank”), the Soviet Union took part in those discussions and signed the final act of this conference (though it never formally became a part of the IMF). In 1945, Stalin attended the conferences of the big allied powers in Potsdam and Yalta in which the world was essentially divided into “spheres of influence”. In 1946, it was the first country in the world to accord recognition to the unjust formation of the state of Israel.
- At the same time, the IMF, the World Bank, the United Nations (and later the WTO), created a new world economic system based not on the capture of colonies but on the economic exploitation of the former dependent countries, colonies and semi-colonies through the market. This system resulted in a sudden massive growth of MNCs and in the dissolution of old feudal and other pre-capitalist relations all over the world, to the extent that they curtailed the growth of the market. There was a sudden and massive expansion of the market to take in every nook and corner of the globe (except the socialist countries).
- The communist movement all over the world grew by leaps and bounds. People’s Democratic Revolutions had taken place in 13 countries including many in Eastern Europe. People’s democratic revolution was also achieved in China (and later in Cuba and Vietnam). By the 1950s, half of the territory of the world and one third of its population were living in socialist countries. However, the communist movement in the world failed to scientifically analyse the changes which were taking place in the world colonial system, in effect, creating the neo-colonial system.
- By 1956, after the death of Stalin, in the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and later in the 21st Congress in 1958 Khruschov put forward the thesis that the period of colonialism is disappearing and imperialism was weakening and that there could now be lasting peace and there was no need for revolution. He put forward the theory of the “three peacefuls” – Peaceful competiton (with imperialism in the market), peaceful coexistence and peaceful transformation (to socialism). He postulated that the ruling classes in the newly independent countries, which he saw as being led by the “national bourgeoisie”, were essentially anti-imperialist in character and would choose the socialist system when they saw in the world market that the socialist system could beat the capitalist system in competition. In the same conference a secret paper was also read out vilifying Stalin.
- The Chinese Communist Party opposed the wrong understanding of the Soviet party and tried to reason and reach an acceptable compromise. For this purpose two meetings were held in Moscow in 1957 and 1960 resulting in the Moscow Declaration and the Moscow Statement respectively. Till 1963, the Chinese Communist party made repeated attempts to come to a reasonable compromise. However, the attitude of the Soviet party was intransigent. It began the withdrawal of soviet engineers and advisors from Chinese development projects. Finally in 1963, in reply to the open letter of the revisionist CPSU leadership the Chinese Communist Party wrote the “General Line document” (also called as the June 14th letter). In this the CPC clearly put forward the line that though it was desirable to have peaceful transformation, the conditions for this did not exist anywhere in the world. In this polemics, the CPC declared that colonialism has not disappeared but is replaced by “neo-colonialism which was a more pernicious and sinister form of colonialism. However, in spite of this assertion, there was no attempt to make a detailed analysis of neo-colonialism.
- The CPC was also engaged in its own life and death struggle against the wrong line around that time. In its 8th Congress in 1956 (the first after victory in the revolutionary war, the rightist line under the leadership of Liu Shaoqui and Deng Xiaoping had prevailed. Mao had to set in motion a series of struggles against these capitalist roaders culminating with the launching of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution by 1966 which succeeded in removing them from all positions of power..
- Around this time itself, a wrong line started to develop in the Chinese Communist Party. The first signs of this line can be seen in the writing of Lin Biao, “Long live the victory in the People’s War”. In this writing, he hinted that the era that Lenin had defined as the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution was changing into the era of the total collapse of imperialism and of the imminent world-wide victory of socialism. He made similar assertions in the preface to the “Red Book” which was published in 1966 (Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse Tung). Anarchist assertions like it was sufficient to study the red book and more study would make you more foolish were made. It was also asserted that there was no need for a new International.
- In 1969, in the 9th Congress, while presenting the report to the Congress Lin Biao plainly stated that this was the era of total collapse of imperialism and the imminent world-wide victory of socialism. An amendment was also presented at this Congress making Lin Biao the successor of Mao.
- It was this wrong petty-bourgeois anarchist line of underestimating imperialism that led to many mistakes in the emerging Marxist-Leninist movement all over the world. In India, Turkey and other countries, the anarchist, adventurist, sectarian line prevailed, causing great loss both to countless lives and also the communist movement. This line continues to this day in the form of “Maoism”. The Shining Path (Sendoro Luminoso) party in Peru and Maoists in India are clear examples of this line which upholds Lin Biao either expressly or impliedly. Such Maoists still believe, at least in their actions, in the Chinese path of area-wise seizure of power being the only path for revolution all over the world. Some parties like CARC in Italy also talk of implementing the path of “protracted people’s war” even in such advanced capitalist countries like Italy. Some others like the UCPN (Maoist) in Nepal and the CPP in Philippines, though following “Maoism” in theory, have actually come away from the path of protracted people’s war in action and are trying different methods to bring about successful revolutionary advance in their countries. The difference of these parties are that they have a strong mass base and this helps them to combat the effects of sectarian theory, while the struggle within them as in UCPN(M) which has led to a recent split continues.
- Lin Biao was stripped of his party posts in 1971 and died soon thereafter. In the 10th Congress the CPC once again asserted that this was the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. However, there was no self-critical attitude about the 9th Congress. The Chinese party also placed nationalism before internationalism in this period and invited Kissinger and Nixon to China for “ping pong diplomacy” at the same time when the US was bombarding Vietnam right upto the borders of China. In 1973, when the JVP led a massive uprising in Sri Lanka, the Chinese Government sent aid and arms to the Sri Lankan Government to put down the uprising. In Africa, it supported unpopular dictatorial regimes only because the Soviet Union was supporting the rebellions against such regimes. This was also the time when it was postulated that it was acceptable to unite even with US imperialism to fight Soviet Social imperialism which was the main enemy. The wrong emphasis on nationalism ultimately gave rise to the wrong and class collaborationist “Three World Theory”
- It was our party which was one of the first in India to denounce the Three World Theory and also to declare that the Chinese Government, after Mao, was no more socialist. Since there was no support for this thinking, at that time, within India, from the various communist revolutionary groups we initiated our own reorganization process and also sought like minded forces internationally. In line with Marxist-Leninist teaching we asserted that communist parties must uphold proletarian internationalism. We signed a joint statement with five parties denouncing the capitalist roaders in China, opportunist line of Enver Hoxha and calling for building a platform of Marxist—Leninist parties at international level. Though we participated in the 1984 Conference called by the RCP(USA) which led to the formation of Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) we had ideological and political difference with it and did not join it. Later we became a part of ICMLPO for many years. We have played an important role in the founding of the ICOR and have been playing a vital role since the past two years in it which was formed in October 2010. We have been asserting that after the significant transformations that have taken place at international level and within the country under the neo-colonial forms of exploitation resorted to by the imperialist camp led by the US, in recognizing which serious mistakes were committed by the ICM leading to the severe setbacks suffered by it, the main task of communists today to become capble to halt the degeneration of the communist movement internationally by developing the study of neo-colonialism and develop our stand in the neo-colonial period in the same manner as the colonial thesis served in the colonial period. In fact, this stand is vindicated by the fact that the decline of the communist movement has taken place during the same time as the advent of neo-colonialism was taking pace..
- Our international documents of the 1997 Conference, of the Bhopal Special Conference in 2009 and of the 9th Party Congress in 2011 as well as other writings in our journals must be used as weapons to make a theoretical breakthrough in this direction. At the same time the Party has to take the responsibility of making a through and more indepth evaluation of the experience of the ICM in coming years as our own fraternal contacts and our revolutionary experience are developing further. n